- Listening to the 36-track sprawl of 5oFoF, it's staggering to think of how many careers LA label Friends Of Friends has launched (especially when you consider that they started out selling T-shirts). Among the main acts, you've got Shlohmo, Southern California's dark prince of moody R&B; Salva, an ascendant rap producer and great DJ; the internet-savvy pop of Jerome LOL; and Groundislava, who mixes video game nostalgia with spirited club hybridism. Add in loose associations with artists like Ryan Hemsworth and that's a hell of a roster. More recently, Friends Of Friends have added a new grip of names—Perera Elsewhere, Deru and Kyson—driving the label in a different, more reflective direction. This wide spectrum of old and new is on display in 5oFoF, one of those rare two-and-a-half hour compilations where almost every single track feels worthwhile.
5oFoF flaunts the crew's past accomplishments more than it hints at the future, but there are some promising new tracks. Former Sepalcure member Braille stops by with the lithe house of "Better Than Nothing," while Different Sleep contributes the half-lidded ballad "Hurt You" (his excellent "Conflict" is a good reminder that last year's self-titled EP was unfairly slept on). Jerome LOL teams up with Sara Z for the pop number "All That I Am," while Shigeto and Kyson show great chemistry on "Water Collides," beefing up the latter's wistful electronica with the former's knack for percussion.
But for anyone who has followed the American electronic music underground in the last five years, the rest of 5oFoF should be a nostalgia trip in the best way possible. Tomas Barfod's underrated The Salton Sea shines brightest, with the groggy house of "Broken Glass," Salva's slo-mo edit of "Came To Party" and the rousing "November Skies"—the best thing Friends Of Friends has released to date, for my money—all standing out. But there's also Shlohmo's pioneering early work ("Places"), Groundislava's near-operatic turn with Baths ("Suicide Mission") and creamy funk from Salva, making his Complex Housing album from 2011 look like a master-class in retrospect.
Many artists have used Friends Of Friends as a training ground for bigger things, which makes 5oFoF feel slightly bittersweet. It's been almost two years since Shlohmo appeared on the label, and Salva's recent Peacemaker was self-released. But the compilation proves the new breed stack up just fine, and if they haven't developed the personalities of the older guard, they're on their way. Perera Elsewhere's icy folk ("Bizarre") and Deru's warbling ambience ("1979") already feel like label classics.
When Friends Of Friends started out, it was a local affair, which gave it a unique communal energy. As its unknowns have turned into stars, its attention has turned global—in addition to Braille, Kyson and Perera Elsewhere, they've also signed Nadastrom, underlining the label's restless nature. You can usually count on a big melody, though everything else is up in the air—a free, genre-breaking spirit that's been part of the Friends Of Friends ethos since day one. Some things have changed, sure, but not everything, and if nothing else, 5oFoF is a powerful reminder of the LA label's accomplishments.
01. Perera Elsewhere - Bizarre
02. Shlohmo - Places
03. Different Sleep - Conflict
04. Ernest Gonzales - We Can Live In The Forest
05. Jerome LOL - Deleted feat. Sara Z
06. Tomas Barfod - November Skies feat. Nina Kinert
07. Salva - Wake Ups
08. Mexicans With Guns - Highway to Hell feat. Freddie Gibbs
09. Shlohmo - Don't Say No feat. How To Dress Well
10. Kyson - Missing Things
11. Groundislava - Suicide Mission feat. Baths
12. Deru - 1979
13. Robot Koch - Overnight feat. Perera Elsewhere
14. Tomas Barfod - Broken Glass
15. Daedelus - LA Nocturne
16. Salva - Obsession feat. B Bravo
17. LOL Boys - Changes feat. Heart Streets
18. Evenings - Friend [Lover]
01. Braille - Better Than Nothing feat. Angelica Bess
02. Shlohmo - Rained The Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)
03. Salva - I Could Be feat. Rome Fortune, B Bravo & Royal
04. LOL Boys - Changes feat. Heart Streets (Star Slinger Remix)
05. Tomas Barfod - Came To Party (Salva Remix)
06. Jerome LOL - Always feat. Sara Z (Bondax Remix)
07. Tomas Barfod - November Skies feat. Nina Kinert (Jerome LOL Remix)
08. Groundislava - Panorama feat. Jake Weary (Clive Tanaka Y Beaunoise Remix)
09. Jerome LOL - All That I Am feat. Sara Z
10. Salva - Keys Open Doors (Machinedrum Remix)
11. Shigeto X Kyson - Water Collides
12. LOL Boys - Changes feat. Heart Streets (Shlohmo Remix)
13. Different Sleep - Hurt You feat. Kid Sister & Lil Chris
14. Groundislava - Suicide Mission feat. Baths (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)
15. Groundislava - October Pt. 1
16. Kyson - Missing Things (MMOTHS Remix)
17. Perera Elsewhere - Light Bulb (Shlohmo Remix)
18. Shlohmo - Places (Shlohmo Remix)